Renewables can play a strong role in the post-Covid world

Akshay Kashyap, Founder and Managing Director, GreenFuel Energy Solutions

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Akshay Kashyap, Founder and Managing Director, GreenFuel Energy Solutions asserts that renewables can play an important role in the post-COVID world, as countries start focusing on energy security and self-reliance. In this interview, he shares his views on India’s potential in the electric two- and three-wheeler segment, boosting EV adoption in India and the impact of EV penetration on power demand. Excerpts:

In your view, how is COVID-19 lockdown affecting Indian manufacturing segment (in terms of production, supply chain)?

Due to globalization the supply chain is highly complex and interlinked. Due to the COVID situation it is going to be very difficult to procure raw materials especially from foreign countries and from containment zones domestically. Therefore, we see a very slow ramp up that could take up to 6 months for production to reach pre-Covid levels.

Do you feel Covid-19 can prove to be a huge opportunity for India to emerge as a global manufacturing hub? What steps and policies are required to capitalize on this opportunity?

The opportunity definitely exists however we have a long way to go in terms of labour reforms, land reforms, ending of license raj as well as archaic laws and retrospective tax decisions. All these do not make India a favoured destination for a global manufacturing hub. We have to be more competitive and make products to global quality standards. This cannot happen without reforms in all areas mentioned above. Further being a cost sensitive economy the demand for global quality products in our country is also low. Therefore, while the opportunity is there it will take a Herculean effort in reforms to claim the spot of being a global manufacturing Hub.

What will be the impact of Covid-19 on energy storage, EV, Renewable Sector etc.

It is my belief that post COVID, most countries will want to move more towards Energy security and self-reliance. Based on that renewables along with battery storage is a great alternative to coal-based power and less polluting also. Here I think renewables can play a strong role towards self-sufficiency and energy security. Taking this further is EVs and by having more EVs on the road we can definitely decrease our import bill for crude in the long term. Further, by producing power from renewables we will have the dual benefits of less pollution and using renewable to power vehicles, which will make the net impact of EVs to zero carbon emission.

What are your reasons to focus on the two- and three-wheeler segment? In your view, what is India’s potential in the electric two- and three-wheeler segment?

India is a complex country and offers many types of Mobility options that other developed countries do not. We are the 2nd Largest two-wheeler market and the largest three-wheeler market in the world. Today, if you compare the total cost savings of using Electric 2 wheelers and electric 3 wheelers there is an automatic case of better economic viability in both these segments compared to ICE over a 3-4 year period. So, in India the story will first be the 2 wheelers and 3 wheelers and therefore we have focused on giving reliable product options for this segment.

What is your take on the government’s push on the EV segment? What other policies/steps do you recommend to boost EV adoption in India?

I believe the government can act as an enabler and then let market forces decide. The government should follow a carrot and stick policy. In that sense they have already given subsidies to the tune of Rs 10,000 crores through FAME-2. This is a good step. I think there should also be a stick from the government in mandating fleet owners and delivery vehicles to move a certain percentage (say 30%) of their vehicles to electric. This will give the impetus to demand, make economic sense for fleets and be better for the environment. This will help build a more robust local supply chain for EV products as well as demand creation will take place. Further, I think by bringing in a scrappage policy for old vehicles and then incentivizing people by tax breaks in income if they buy EVs will further boost demand.

Update us on your battery systems for e-mobility? Has the government given you any facility to dispose or recycle lithium-ion batteries?

GreenFuel battery packs are engineered to be modular, most reliable and suitable for Indian conditions. We do not believe in just copying and assembling. We believe in creating global quality products and own technology for India and the rest of the world. That is what we have done with our battery packs. We have also applied for 4 patents on the same. The government is soon going to notify a policy on recycling of Li-ion batteries which will make India even more self-reliant when it comes to making cells. This is a good initiative taken by the government.

Comment on Hybrid and electric as a future to green strategy

Hybrid is considered a stepping stone towards full electrification. I believe firmly in Hybridization technologies for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The reason is that in cars where people want to go long distances Hybrids not only save fuel but are better for the environment. In Urban mobility all electric can be an option. So, having both technologies is a good idea. In Europe, for example, 48V hybrids have become very popular due to tougher emission norms. In India too many SUV makers will have to go in for Hybridization to comply with CAFÉ norms. So, in some cases it will also become necessary.

What will be the impact of increased EV penetration on power demand?

There are some studies done that even at 10 million EVs on Indian roads will consume just 3.2% of the power generating capacity of India. So, we have enough headroom to promote EVs without a significant impact on power demand. And of that 3.2 % can come from renewables it will have a net zero carbon emission impact!

What are your future goals and vision for FY 20-21?

Our goals for 20-21 is to consolidate our position as a premium and preferred supplier for EV battery packs to most EV manufacturers in the 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler space and also enter into the markets of Energy storage based on Li-ion battery system

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